Saturday, February 21, 2009

Vintage Embellishments and Textiles Charm Creative One-of-a Kind Craft Projects

Handmade Pin Cushion made by Elizabeth Holcombe. See more of Elizabeth's work in Hot Cottage Collectibles for Vintage Style Homes by C. Dianne Zweig.

Many successful home crafters are able to create fabulous usable works of art out of old drapes, embroidered towels, hankies, needlepoint, salvage, trim, buttons, and sewing notions. A little bit of creativity can go a long way. Millinery trim can be taken off old hats which are no longer in wearing condition. The author has pulled feathers, flowers, buckles, sequins, and jeweled charms off hats and used them in many new ways.

For years, I have re-cycled these vintage gems by creating very elaborate handmade note cards which feature the image of a glamorous lady with a plumed hat and coordinated shawl. At first I used old stay buttons as the face of my glamour girl, but graduated years later to having cards pre-printed with a pen and ink drawn image of a woman’s face. Colorful patterned wallpaper, velvet scraps ad other textiles are used for the upper bodice of my elegant gal. The fun part is then embellishing this note card with vintage sewing and millinery trim. For “make-up” I use colored pencils sharpened just right to give me both sharp lines when I need them and softer strokes for eye shadow and blush.

My home studio is organized with lots of small plastic boxes filled with all the goodies I have saved for decades. My neighborhood wallpaper store saves old wallpaper books for me which I tear apart during the cold winter months and use to cut out patterned hats I have designed for my cards.

I am of course, not alone in my quest for finding funky vintage and re-cycled papers, textiles and notions.One gal I am familiar with likes to use vintage cotton fabric, millinery supplies, and older ceramic novelty figurines when she creates her darling pin cushions. Embellishing a handmade pin cushion with a vintage 1940’s Scotty dog figurine, or 1950’s poodle or even an old Monopoly game piece for example, can add a touch of charm to your hand stuffed cushion.

Ceramic figurines as well as orphaned salt and pepper shakers have dozens of uses in vintage home or craft projects beyond using atop a pin cushion. Single salt shakers combined with vintage tassels make great shade pulls. I have also seen odd salt or pepper shakers glued to the center of a large plate and used to created a tiered cake and dessert platter. Single plates are fastened on top of the figurine or shaker and stacked to form a multi-level serving piece.

Just when I think I have seen everything, I discover yet another use for vintage trim, trinkets, figurines, buttons, game parts, salvage etc. Recently I have seen a much greater interest in old Mah Jongg and Scrabble tiles which are being transformed into whimsical jewelry and sold at boutiques. As many of you already know, vintage buttons are also hotter than ever as both collectibles and as for use in a variety of ways.

A true creative person learns very early on in life to never throw out anything. Many textile artists and crafters live with boxes filled with “supplies” which came from scraps, remnants, broken pieces, old games or out of stained or damaged older tablecloths and linens..

In an earlier article I talked about how torn colorful 1940s –1950s tablecloths called “cutters” are often used to make delightful pillows, window shades, handbags, purses, aprons, or linings for glass closet doors, shelves, or room screens. Barkcloth salvage with vibrant botanicals or midcentury abstracts is highly collectible. Even barkcloth scraps are in demand as designers use them for trim on clothing, pocketbooks, or artwork

When you come across old linens, doilies, lace, trim, hankies, dresser scarves, and other fabrics that look wimpy, yellowed, or have tears, give them a new life in a collage, as a background for framing, as part of a pillow, etc. I did a series of floral collages using vintage barkcloth, combining a variety of new and old materials.

With the holidays approaching, many people enjoy exchanging handmade practical gifts. In fact, not only do I enjoy sending friends and colleagues my handmade note cards but I encourage them to re-purpose remnants, papers and materials as well.

As an environmentally conscientious “craft salvaging type of person,” I ask my friends to save their wrapping paper, ribbons and bows for me to use for future projects. The trick is to fold the papers carefully and keep all your materials and supplies organized or your workspace will deteriorate rapidly. The idea is not to create clutter but to create lovely and charming one-of-a kind vintage craft and sewing projects.

C. Dianne Zweig is the author of Hot Kitchen & Home Collectibles of the 30s, 40s, 50s and Hot Cottage Collectibles for Vintage Style Homes. She is also the Editor of an actively growing internet based resource community for people who buy, sell or collect antiques, collectibles and art. You can find Dianne’s fabulous retro and vintage kitchen, home and cottage collectibles at The Collinsville Antiques Company of New Hartford, CT, a 22,000 feet antique emporium with an in-house retro cafĂ©.

To read more articles by C. Dianne Zweig click on this link:
C. Dianne Zweig’s Blog Kitsch ‘n Stuff

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Dianne is a member of:
The American Society of Journalists and Authors
The Authors Guild, Inc.

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